Patrick Rosal

The Next Hundred-Odd Half-Dreamed Miles

This part’s real: the kid sways
near a curb (the club’s fuck-hard
flash of neon lights keeps time
inside) his top lip split
mouth popped into hellglow blossom
eyes swelled shut like peaches
Small half-as-dark and twice
as yapping drunk as you
he swings forward and lands
a clean right cross you confuse
with a good reason to try
and toss him like a sack of trash
into the midnight traffic
His Pinay girlfriend (so light-skinned
and round-eyed she would have passed
for Magellan’s daughter) shouts
You goddamned monkey in perfect English
which makes you hold
his head in your hands
—without thinking of his mother
cursing in Tagalog—
when you thrust one more time
the tender cartilage of his nose
against your knee except
this story isn’t about you It’s about me
and every time someone’s bar-buzz
crescendos to mezzo-forte tough-guy
maybe I should consider that kid
holding both arms out as if he’d catch
whatever he could summon from the sky
but rage doesn’t work like that
It’s like this: I race down the Parkway
and skip every exit I know too well
slumped in the driver’s seat
for the next hundred-odd half-dreamed miles
taking turns sucking my bloody knuckle
with the only girl I think I’ll ever kiss
—my tongue too dumb to tell
which taste belongs to whom
and which mouth happens when

Patrick Rosal
The Next Hundred-Odd Half-Dreamed Miles is reprinted from Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive (Persea Books, 2003), and was first published in Folio (Winter 2003).
Poem, copyright © 2003 by Patrick Rosal
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2004, From the Fishouse